Network / our review
phenomenal Mesmerizing TIMELY
Nov 22nd, 2018
Can we trust the news?
Fun Fact: Paddy Chayefsky is a powerhouse screenwriter from the 20th century. He won three Academy Awards for script writing - a record he shares with Woody Allen.
Target Audience: Whether you loved the film in 1976 or have never heard of it - this production is worth seeing for all of us connected to our devices, and apparently the world.
Best Bit: Brian Cranston's performance is phenomenal!
Morning After Effect: Perhaps some calming music to start the day?
We are surrounded by screens bombarding us with constant advertisements, entertainment and news. But to what degree are the lines between these categories blurred? Network on Broadway begs the question - how can we trust that the news is not pushing an agenda or sensationalizing stories for the sake of ratings? Based on the 1976 film by Paddy Chayefsky, Network takes a closer look into the newsroom as veteran anchorman Howard Beale (played by Brian Cranston) - totally bewildered by the world and his industry - comes undone. Of course, since its inception by Chayefsky, a lot has changed which playwright Lee Hall highlights in this adaptation. Gone are the days of tuning into the nightly news and being able to turn the television off and walk away. Nowadays we have notifications popping up on various devices insisting we pay attention to the constant supply of local and international news. Our attention has never been a greater commodity given the plethora of platforms available and the wide reach of coverage keeping us informed, infuriated, fearful and hopefully following. At what point did the news shift from its priority of being factual into the trap of gaining fans for finances? What a dangerous place to be.
Cranston's performance is exhilarating as he desperately pleads with his audience to turn their televisions off, to avoid the dangers of repetitive news which sinks into the depths of our minds planting manipulative seeds that will sway our thoughts and ultimately our freedom. The irony is that his audiences stay glued to the screen, waiting with bated breath for his next stint, his prophecy - allowing the voice in "the tube" to entertain rather than educate. Cranston is mesmerizing and his honesty, vulnerability and liberating expression of sadness and anger is inspirational. He emphasizes that the television, a tool that aimed to connect us and inform us, has also subdued our energy and instilled fear. Numbing us to a place of voyeurism at the cost of our own vitality. Fooling us into the perception of being small and isolated in our homes rather than the truth of our great collective power to demand justice and freedom without the smoke and mirrors.
Ivo Van Hove's brilliant staging has the characters live out their real and raw moments in empty pockets which exist on the outskirts of the dulled newsroom, reiterating its looming presence and pressure. Network has landed on Broadway in a timely manner and Hov's excellent direction keeps the audience engaged long after the cast has left the stage as videos of the American Presidents being sworn into office are played. The vocal response from the audience was remarkable - had this production just given us permission to cheer and yell at the screens? To openly vocalize a response to what was being shared? It appeared so. Undoubtedly a call to action reminding us that our voices (and vote) matter. That we are indeed alive and a part of this story.
View our show pages for more information about Network, Belasco Theater.